For our last post in our series on fieldwork, we leave you with this video of kids dancing, and, well, learning to dance…. Child-to-child transmission is the best!
BaYaka adults rarely make children toys. Instead, children make toys themselves, and these toys reflect what they see around them. In the top video, you can see a forest spirit, named Ejengi, dancing. Ejengi is a men’s spirit that usually dances at funerals or special events. In the bottom video, children have made Ejengi spinning toys out of palm fronds. When younger children don’t have the dexterity to shred the leaves, older children make these toys for them. You can hear Sarah, in the second video, asking in Lingala: “what is this?” The children answer: “Ejengi“.
In this picture, a 9-year-old boy takes care of his infant sister. And he’s not the only one who does. Among the BaYaka, both mothers and fathers, as well as siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles help take care of infants. This is what alloparenting looks like!
Kids play with, and at, all sorts of things. Over the summer, one father decided to turn a subset of the forest near our camp into a garden. Once the trees were cut, the children went to play; the limbs of the tree were perfect fodder for a game of tag, or, in this case, eagles hunting monkeys. The bounce on the limps turned into a truck ride down a logging road. The long fruit from one of the trees made perfect cell phones.
Every once in a while, they would climb down from the fallen trees, and climb up an Ediki tree to get an ediki, a big sweet yellow fruit.
Which is work, and which is play?